It IS a Small World After All

Early yesterday morning I purchased a cookbook on eBay for Hubby’s Christmas stocking. I was pretty excited about this item, as it was one of the last things I needed to pick up, and I have a feeling that this particular one is one he’ll enjoy. We both love looking through cookbooks and picking out yummy recipes to try.  Some say we already have enough, but we would disagree!

Of course I didn’t mention this new one to him at all, as I want it to be a surprise.

So, imagine MY surprise when he greeted me at the door after work with the following question, “Did you buy a cookbook on eBay today?”

“Uh, yes?” I stammered. “How do you know that?”

“Because it was stuck in our mailbox when I got home from the office.” And sure enough, into my outstretched hands he plucked a brown paper package. On the front in magic marker it said EBAY COOKBOOK.

Last night I checked my email, and sure enough - there was a message from the eBay seller. He said that he lived three blocks away from us(!!!) and decided it would be a lot easier to just run it by our house than put it through the post.

We got a good laugh at the whole thing. It hadn’t occurred to me to look at the seller’s address so I had not expected we were neighbors. Needless to say, he has received stellar feedback for this transaction.

I love shopping on-line, especially at sites like eBay and Etsy. There are times though when those purchases seem so faceless, so impersonal…. This particular experience made the world wide web seem a little smaller – in a good way!

Hubby now knows that the cookbook is for him (he figured that out as soon as I refused to show it to him), but he’ll still get a little surprise when he sees just what cookbook it is. Hurrah!

Oh, how I love this time of year – full of fun little holiday surprises.


The Santa Dilemma

Thanksgiving Day is behind us. Now begins the free-fall till December 25th. The days and weeks will fly by. There is so much left to do: decorating, baking, wrapping, singing and hot cocoa sipping. There is holiday music and outdoor lights.

And there is Santa.

Santa and I have an interesting relationship.

(Spoiler Alert – My beliefs about Santa may not match yours – be prepared).

As a child, my family celebrated Christmas with yummy home-made food, carol singing, lovely fellowship, piles of presents and (most importantly to our family) the reading of the Christmas story (via Luke 2).

(Spoiler Reminder – Not kidding!! If you are a young child or even a not-so-young one, and Santa is coming to your house this year, stop reading now.)

What my childhood Christmas memories don’t contain, is any belief that Santa was real. He was as real to me, as Cinderella or Tom Thumb. His story was sweet and fun, but not something I was to take seriously. Christ’s birth was the only reason for the season. I was warned however, that some children did believe very strongly in Santa and that I was to keep any and all Santa/Cinderella comparisons to myself. My parents were firm on that point. Our belief (or lack thereof) was to have no impact on those who chose to embrace the jolly Old St Nicholas.

Some people didn’t understand the stance my parents took. “Why not let her believe in Santa?” they would ask. “What’s the harm?” So worried about my mental health (as a child in a Santa free home) one well-meaning friend left a giant teddy bear in our car one Sunday morning after church. I was three, and when we got to the car, I spotted the new bear and became very excited. Mom and Dad thought the bear was lovely and a very sweet gift, but they wondered who had left it? The tag read (of course) “From Santa”.

To this day, we do not know who that particular Santa was. I loved that bear regardless of who left it for me, and the story remains a family favorite… so thank you to the mysterious Santa from 30some years ago.

But I digress. Why didn’t my parents tell me about Santa? It was simple. My Mom vividly remembered the day when a classmate told her Santa wasn’t real. She was maybe 8 or 9, and this news devastated her. Even at that young age she vowed to never put her own children in a similar situation. She reasoned that if we never believed in Santa to begin with, our little hearts wouldn’t break when we learned otherwise.

And you know what? We didn’t miss out on anything….not really. It’s true we never got our picture taken with Santa. It’s true that we were never told we would get coal in our stockings if we were naughty (even if that’s what I deserved a year or two). It’s true that we watched any Santa themed Christmas special as if it was just another cartoon. It’s also true that none of that mattered in the long run. We had (and still do have) wonderful Christmas celebrations together. We share memories and eat good food. We give each other hugs and silly presents. We wallow in a beautiful day of family fellowship. We want for nothing.

But here’s the funny thing…as a grown-up, I love Santa! I have for years. When it was time to decorate the Christmas tree in my first apartment, I found myself drawn to the Santa ornaments. So, those were the ones I purchased. As the years went by, Santa became my holiday decorating theme and over time a larger collection evolved. I have ceramic Santas, wooden ones, glass and metal ones. I have wall hangings and Santas that sing. I have a full set of dishes, a cookie jar, and big mugs. (That friend who acted as my own personal Santa all those years ago would probably be proud.) 
My Santa-free childhood, and my Santa-heavy adulthood were never in conflict until we had a little one of our own. We decided early on that we would try to find some happy medium

We take him to get his picture taken with Santa each year (this was the first year so far that he wasn’t happy about it). We’ll read him The Night Before Christmas, and Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, but we’ll also read Luke 2 and Christmas in the Barn. We’ll tell him that Santa is a nice old man who gives gifts to boys and girls in honor of the greatest gift ever given – the Christ Child. We aren’t going to push the “He knows when you’ve been sleeping” bit. Honestly that always seemed creepy to me…brings to mind Santa in a ski mask peeking over window sills… Anyway, our Santa will bring one gift for Little Guy. The rest of his gifts will be from family members and friends. We aren’t going to push the Santa thing, but we aren’t necessarily going to discourage it either. Hopefully we’ll find some safe middle ground, where he can enjoy all the Santa aspects of Christmas without distorting the Christian meaning of the holiday.

I know some of you are thinking we should follow my parents’ footsteps and forgo Santa totally. Some others may think we should go the opposite direction – all Santa all the time. I don’t know who’s right, but I do think the system we’ve chosen will work for us. If it doesn’t, I’m sure Little Guy will let us know. In the meantime, if you think his Santa exposure is lacking, you can always leave a large stuffed animal in my car for Little Guy with a tag that says “From Santa”. 

I drive the big tan Chrysler.

Happy Holidays to you all – regardless of  your opinion of Santa Claus.


Why This Bluebird Sings (Holiday Edition)

You know about the people I love. Now you can learn about the stuff I love as well.

In no particular order… here are the holiday cherries on the top of this week’s wickedhappy sundae:

What I’m Listening to: Christmas carols of course! One of our local radio stations has already started to play them 24/7 and I couldn’t be happier. My favorite Christmas song: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Can’t explain why, but it’s been my favorite since childhood.

What I’m Looking Forward to: Scrumptious holiday meals served by loving family members. My Dad reading the Christmas Story before we open presents at my parents’ house. Little Guy helping to decorate holiday cookies. Taking him sledding. Quiet nights snuggled under quilts, watching old Christmas specials on TV. Time spent with family making memories.

What I’m Remembering: The Reason for the Season! Our old toboggan – no sled was faster! Precious time spent with loved ones who are no longer with us. Making paper chains with my folks when I was a little girl. My Mom’s blueberry pie. Making home-made doughnuts on Christmas morning (an old tradition in my family). Just how very blessed I am in so many ways.

What I'm Wishing for You:  A very happy holiday season filled with love and laughter and happiness.


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment.... via a single photo – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember…”


Counting My Blessings

I’ll be spending this lovely holiday surrounded by family, eating yummy food and being thankful for the many blessings in my life. This time of year always reminds me of an old hymn which captures the mood for the day, I think. My wish for you is that you also have a wonderful day surrounded by the blessings in your life.

Count Your Blessings
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Words by Johnson Oatman Jr. 1897
Music by Edwin O. Excell


Big Boy Bed

I’ve told you before about our Little Guy and his issues with sleeping. For a while now, we’ve been thinking it might be time to give him a big boy bed (actually convert his crib to a toddler bed, but you get the idea). Our thought was that maybe he might choose to sleep in on occasion if the choice was truly his.

So last week Hubby converted the crib while I kept Little Guy busy elsewhere. When the transition was complete, we lead him into his little room. We didn’t say anything or point out what had changed. We watched closely to see if he would even notice. Within moments he did. He put his hand to his mouth, and said, “Oh NO! Mine bed BROKE!” We quickly assured him that it wasn’t broken, and that in fact it was now a “Big Boy Bed”, and we urged him to climb in.
The quilt on his bed is one I made (with the help of my Mom and Grandma) while I was pregnant with Little Guy.  The dinos and cowboy are all stuffed creatures that I've madefor him recently.  The contraption hanging on the side is his Fisher Price rain forest, which hs's had since he was an infant. 
He likes to be surrounded by things he loves (don't we all?)
 He loved it right away. That first day he climbed in and out about a hundred times. He would climb under the covers and pretend to sleep (eyes scrunched tight, and making snoring noises while trying not to giggle). We kept him very busy that day so that when nighttime came, he quickly drifted off to dreamland.
Since then it’s been touch and go. Bedtime can be tricky if he doesn’t think he’s ready to go to sleep. We have extra snuggle time some nights. Other times we sing extra songs. Some nights he goes right to bed no problem. Those nights are becoming more the norm, thankfully. And once asleep, he has been staying put throughout the night for the most part, and for that we are very, very grateful.

Last night as we were going through our bedtime routine, I could tell he really didn’t want to lay down. He was stalling. I gave him a kiss and assured him that if he needed anything at all I’d be right across the hallway.

He looked up at me with a mischievous expression, and said, “Mommy, I need chips!” Then we both laughed and he settled down into his covers to be tucked in for the night.

So far, the “Big Boy Bed” experiment has been a success. We’re very happy we made the switch, and our Little Guy is happy we made it too.


Monday Morning Mommy

We had a pretty wonderful weekend. What did we do? Not much of anything actually. Hubby did some yard work and winterizing. My folks came up for a quick visit. The rest of our weekend was spent inside our warm and cozy home.

We played games. We built towers with blocks. We colored pictures. We ate snacks and watched old “Bob the Builder” re-runs. We cuddled under blankets and were thankful for the shelter from the brisk winds. We chatted and ate yummy cold weather food. We did all the everyday stuff that makes our little family happy.

So this morning found me a little rough around the edges. It’s always hard to go back (even if you are lucky to have a job you like – which I do), but after such a lovely time with my fellas – it was proving to be especially difficult to leave today.

As I began to dress Little Guy in his jeans and cute flannel shirt, he looked up at me with those big beautiful eyes, and asked quietly, “Mommy, stay home?”

Oh heartache! He’s too young to really understand the why behind our daily foray into the working world. He doesn’t know just how much both of his parents would rather stay home and play with him. Most days he’s happy to go to his babysitter’s. She’s a sweet lady and they are close. Mondays tend to be tough though. He’s been spoiled by a couple days of family togetherness (as have we) and it’s a bit of an adjustment to get back into the routine. He’s (thankfully) always fine about five minutes after I drop him off. Once he sees his little buddies and starts to play with the fun toys and begins to munch happily on his morning snack of Fruit Loops – everything is fine again. It is still hard though, to walk away from a teary eyed face that means so much.

Recently a gal I know asked me if I ever get time to myself? She wanted to know if any working parent gets to take a day off just to do “me” stuff. I do take off my birthday and spend half of the day shopping solo in all the stores my guys don’t have any interest in. Other than that, the answer is pretty much no. She went on to take pity on me since (as a parent of a young child) I often have to use vacation time when Little Guy is sick.

It made me laugh a little bit, because this sweet lady had it all backward. It’s true that taking vacation days to take care of my son when he’s sick is not my favorite thing to do. But not in the way this friend implied. The thing I hate is that I ever have to leave him to begin with. If I had my way I’d be there with him every day. I wouldn’t need to use vacation days to care for him. I’d just be there. If things ever change and we are able, I’d love to stay home with Little Guy. For now, that is not an option, and I am okay with that. I’m okay with it because the reward of coming home to a hug from chubby little arms makes it all better. Sweet two-year-old kisses quickly erase any stress that might have accumulated.

Every moment (like those glorious ones over the weekend) make every little sacrifice worth making. Every smile he gives me… Every time he tells me he loves me… Every time I watch him sleeping peacefully in his little bed – I’m reminded of just how lucky (and very blessed) I am to have such a wonderful little family.

I just love being a Mommy, even on Monday mornings.

The Barbershop

Last weekend we took Little Guy for his first ever professional haircut.  We went to the same barber who has cut Hubby's hair for years.  He's a sweet gentleman and really put Little Guy at ease.  Though this wasn't his first ever haircut (we've been doing it at home up till now), it was the first time a stranger had cut his hair.  He did pretty well.  He sat on his Daddy's lap, which I think helped too.
just getting started

intrigued by the hair that's no longer on his head... maybe wondering if it can be put back on?
Because we're frugal, and because we really just needed everything evened out (and it now is), we'll go back to cutting it at home for a while again.  In the mean-time our Little Guy looks like a Little Man with his sharp new hairdo.


Little Handbag (52 week challenge - week 9?)

A while back I joined the challenge put forth by the Thrify Mrs. She and a friend concocted a goal of making 52 things in 52 weeks. The guidelines were pretty open. You just need to make things you enjoy, and which aren’t part of your usual repertoire.

For my Mom's birthday earlier this week, I wanted to make something that she would enjoy, but also something that she could use.  Mom is a Sunday school teacher and loves to read her Bible, so I made a little handbag/carry-all for her Bible, maybe a study guide and plenty of pens and highlighters.

I used a pattern from an old quilting magazine that I found at a garage sale for 10 cents this summer.  I used some pretty blue fabric and lace trim that were in my stash. There are pockets on both the front and back.

Front view

Back view
Challenge Summary: Week Nine?
Ever done this before? Nope
Do I love it? Yes I do!! And Mom does too.
Material Cost: 10 cents for the magaizine that had the pattern.  Everything else on hand.
Time Spent: maybe an hour
Success - Yes or No? YES!


Cowboy Beans & Cornbread

My office has a Friday tradition during the cold months of the year. In previous years, it was called “Soup Club”, but this year it’s morphed into “Crock-pot Club”. The idea is simple. Everyone who ‘joins’ agrees to bring a crock-pot full of yummy food twice during the fall/winter (there’s a schedule). In exchange each member can eat free lunch every Friday during the club’s run.

It’s fun. It breaks up the monotony of sack lunches and vending machine food. An added bonus is that the recipes are collected and dispersed, so it’s a nice way to get a lot of new ideas for yummy soups, stews and casseroles. Also, who can refuse home-made hot food when the wind turns cold?

Today was my turn to bring something from home. I brought Cowboy Beans and home-made cornbread (this is a family favorite in my house).

Cowboy Beans

2 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 large (28oz) cans of baked beans (drained)
1/2 c Ketchup
1/2 c Barbeque sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
4 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce

Sauté onion and pepper in large skillet or Dutch oven. Add ground beef and brown. Pour off excess fat. Add remaining ingredients. Stir

Add all to slow cooker and cook for minimum 1 hour on low. Stir frequently.

Serve with sweet country cornbread. The recipe I use is from Sylvia’s Soul Food Cookbook. I blogged about it once before HERE.


Mom's Special Day

Today is my Sweet Mama's birthday.  She is awesome and amazing and reminds me daily of what I hope to be as a mother myself.

Happy Birthday Mom!!  Have a fantastic day.  We love you!!!


Veggie Tales Live

We watch a lot of Veggie Tales in this house.  If you aren't familiar with the series, they are a fun collection of Bible Stories and life lessons - all told through the perspective of animated food.  There are lots of songs (some silly, some more serious - but all with a message).  Each song is well written, and most of them tend to have a hook that gets stuck in my head for days on end.

Our favorites: "The Hairbrush Song", "God is Bigger than the Boogie Man", and "The Dance of the Cucumber", and of course the "Veggie Tales Theme Song".  We got to see each of these (and many, many more) performed today at a local church as part of "Veggie Tales Live!"  This particular performance was mostly showcasing the Silly Songs from the series, but they also threw in a few others - some with life lessons, some from their new 80's music cd, and a few others.  In addition to the vegetables, there was an array of professional back up dancers/singers.  They all did a great job.

We fit into the crowd pretty well.  Everyone there was either a very young child or parents of said child.  It was a friendly and fun environment and really a good time. 
The only bad part for Willie was if one of his favorite characters (Bob the Tomato & Larry the Cucumber of course) left the stage for any reason.  Then he would yell, "Bob, where are you?"  or "Larry, where are You?"  It was cute. 

The cast toward the end of the show.

Larry, singing the Hairbrush song.


Jewelry Design (52 Week Challenge - Week ???)

A while back I joined the challenge put forth by the Thrify Mrs. She and a friend concocted a goal of making 52 things in 52 weeks. The guidelines were pretty open. You just need to make things you enjoy, and which aren’t part of your usual repertoire.

I know you thought I’d completely given up on this whole Challenge project, but no! I have been making things left and right. The blogging about it is where I’ve failed miserably.

So anyway, a few weeks ago my awesome hubby brought me a box full of costume jewelry which he had bought (sight unseen) via an eBay auction. He knows how I love to dig through racks of necklaces at sales, and thought I might enjoy finding a treasure. He had paid $10 for the whole box, and within it were probably 30 pieces. Many were not my taste at all – a little too gaudy, a little too weird, not in great condition… but there were a handful that I adored.

One necklace in particular was an instant favorite, except for one thing. The chain was a heavy silver the shade of steel. Instead of a clasp in the back, the two ends of the chain were held together with a little ring which hung down the front. The thing I didn’t like was that at the end of each side hung a big silvery acorn thing. I am so sorry that I didn’t take a picture of it in that state – I can’t adequately describe how odd it looked.

Anyway, I knew that I liked the idea of the necklace and I loved the weight of it. I just wanted something new to hang in place of the acorns. I went to a local craft store and found a wide array of jewelry making stuff. I picked out a silver locket, a silver bluebird, and a silver “W” (Little Guy’s first initial).

Here’s what I ended up with. I apologize for the photo quality.

My favorite part? Little Guy calls the locket a “Willie Book”. He opens it up, points at his picture, says “WILLIE” and then closes the locket and says, “the end!” How cute is that? Haha

Challenge Summary: Week Four
Ever done this before? Nope
Do I love it? Yes I do!! I’ve had lots of compliments too.
Material Cost: Hubby bought the box of jewelry for me. I paid under $10 for the various bits to hang from the chains.
Time Spent: maybe an hour
Success - Yes or No? YES!


Crazy About Dinosaurs!

Boys love dinosaurs, and my Little Guy is no exception.

He loves books about dinosaurs. He loves for us to draw him dinosaurs. He likes to pretend he IS a dinosaur – “ROOOOAR!” He likes dinosaurs on TV (“Dinosaur Train” is a fairly silly show, but is a new favorite).

The one thing he didn’t have was a cuddly dinosaur, one he could take with him to bed and snuggle with while he sleeps. So, I set out to make one for him. At first, I was just going to cobble together my own pattern. I have done that before with some success and probably would have this time, except that I stumbled upon bitofwhimsydolls.com. They sell lots of dolls and stuffed animals. Most are available as a pattern or as a finished product. I ordered the pattern (for Tommy T-Rex), and couldn’t be happier.

I first made one out of green corduroy. It didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped, but I’m going to blame the fabric. The corduroy just didn’t have the give that cotton does. The end result was still super cute, but I wanted to make another. So, for my second attempt, I used some pink printed cotton and made a cute girly dino for a friend’s child. I had assumed my dino-making days were over (for now at least) but then I found the cutest dinosaur printed fabric at JoAnn’s (their brand), and made one more.

Then I made a mistake – a fairly big one. I had all three of these stuffed little fellows out on the table and was in the process of putting them in clear plastic bags (for storage and/or eventual shipping) when Little Guy walked into the room. Silly me - I had thought he was occupied with Hubby elsewhere. My mistake. As soon as he saw them, he squealed “MY Dinosaurs!” and hugged them all to his chest in glee. I was able to pry the pink one away (she had an alternate destination after all), but ended up letting him keep the other two. He plays with them a lot more than his other stuffed animals, and they go to his crib with him every night. I asked him what their names were, and he answered “Dinosaur Train”. Clearly he doesn’t really understand the art of naming stuffed animals yet, but for now we have Dinosaur Train 1 and Dinosaur Train 2 (see images below)….

I knew for sure, that these little guys were a hit when I came into the family room one night and there sat Little Guy in front of a towering stack of blocks. One of his dino buddies was sitting next to him. Little Guy turned to the dino, shook his finger toward him and said, “Don’t knock down tower!”. Then he proceeded to take the dinosaur and knock the tower down. There was much roaring and giggling. When the tower was no more, Little Guy gave his dinosaur a time-out. How cute is that?

Regarding the pattern, I want to tell you that it was maybe the easiest pattern I’ve ever used, and I felt it was affordable, and ordering it was a breeze. The pattern was clearly written and illustrated with great photo examples. Copyright terms were clearly explained, and the whole thing was very user-friendly. I will certainly use this pattern again in the future. I strongly recommend that you visit bitofwhimsydolls.com and check out the awesome selection of finished items and patterns. I say this only as a very satisfied customer. I am not being compensated for this blog post about bitofwhimsy.

{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment.... via a single photo – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember…”


Veterans Day

Today is the day Americans honor our veterans. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to honor those brave soldiers who have willingly put themselves in danger (many paying the ultimate price), to protect our freedoms. Your service and sacrifice are humbling. We honor you and thank you for all you have done and continue to do.
God bless America, and all those who serve!


Rested, At Last

First of all, I must say a great big Thank You to my saint of a babysitter. Last week she took pity on my bloodshot eyes and dragging posture…and came up with a plan. Starting that day, instead of putting Little Guy down for a traditional nap; she instead had him lay down on his cot within view of a TV. She told him he could sleep, or he could watch the kiddie movie that she put on, but he had to at least rest until the movie was over.

She said he watched the movie quietly on his little cot, and as soon as the credits rolled, he came to her to tell her the movie was over.  Then he returned to his playmates and a regular day.

A few months ago, we had tried to forgo naps and it hadn’t worked. Little Guy became a tired little terror. This time, the results were vastly different. He wasn’t grouchy in the evenings at all, fought bedtime a lot less, and (miracle of miracles) slept till morning!

It’s now been almost a week, and the ‘no naps’ method has worked really well. Evidently all he really needs is that quiet/rest time…which we are happy to give him, believe me!

This past weekend, he and I both caught a cold. Nothing major, but not fun either. We were both exhausted and did take cat naps on Sunday. I was worried that those naps might have stalled our progress, but he clearly needed some extra sleep so we went ahead and let him. We were very happy then, when he did sleep through the night that night. Now that he’s feeling better, we’re back to the no nap routine.

Last night we both slept from 7:30pm – 5am, and we both really needed the rest. Now I think we’re almost back to normal. Luckily, Hubby never caught this round of illness.

I’m still a bit tired from this cold, but feel rested in a way I hadn’t in some time. So, thanks again to our awesome babysitter, who took pity on this tired Mommy, and to all my kind friends who have offered words of encouragement. They have meant so much.


Would You Like a Tour?

Not an actual picture of what I saw,
but you get the idea
Yesterday over my lunch hour, I zipped over to a neighborhood church that was hosting a big bazaar. I had been noticing signs all over town for the last couple of weeks, and as I’m a sucker for church bazaars – I had marked it on my calendar.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a friendly lady who offered me a map! Yes, there was that much going on! One large room was reserved for “vendors” and professional craftsmen/craftswomen. There were tables covered in hand-made jewelry, needlework, baby blankets, and Christmas decorations. There were also the typical vendors like Avon, Scentsy, Tupperware, and Usborne Books. A second large room was set aside for an enormous bake sale, a chili lunch and tables of “church crafts”. Another area was reserved for a large “Silent Auction”, and another was set up as a coffee shop.

Everywhere I wandered, I was greeted by genuinely friendly folks. It was the kind of reception that you’ll only get in a church setting these days. It felt homey and cozy and like being with family.

So, I took my time. I picked up a chocolate chip cookie and a little Royal Copley vase that was calling my name. As I headed down the main hallway toward the exit, I was greeted by a smiling older man.

“Would you like a tour of the sanctuary?” he asked me.
After a quick glance at my watch, I answered, “Of course I would.”
This particular sanctuary was beautiful because of its simplicity. Clean lines and muted colors gave off a very calming feel. There was one feature to this lovely room of worship that was far from muted. The stained glass windows were vivid and well executed. Down one side, the windows featured scenes from the Old Testament. New Testament stories were featured down the other side. The tour was focused on the windows, as it should have been. They were clearly the focal point of the sanctuary.

The sweet man looked down at a printed packet he held in his hands. “I’ve only done this a few times”, he said, “so I might have to look at this now and again.”

I smiled at him, and said that was certainly no problem with me.

We started with the Old Testament wall. The craftsmanship of each window was amazing. The artists had managed to meld color and shapes in a way that was truly moving. The afternoon sun shown through the reds, gold and greens. It was simply lovely.

We started with the “Creation Window”. We admired it for a bit. He pointed out the careful detail. We walked to the next.

“This one,” he said looking down at his paper, “is….”
“It’s the parting of the red sea”, I told him, pointing at the rushing water. “There’s Moses.”
“So this isn’t your first time in a church,” he chuckled – an ornery glint in his eye.
“Well no,”

“Do you know this one?” His finger pointed at the next window. I had to laugh a little. I was being challenged to an unofficial game of Bible Trivia!

Game on!

I grinned at him and said, “The Ten Commandments”.

He laughed. Not even bothering with his paper anymore, and clearly much more at ease. We passed the windows one by one: “Noah’s Ark”, “David & Goliath”, “Samson”, “Daniel in the Lions’ Den”. “Joseph and the coat of many colors”, “Jonah and the Whale”.

“Big Fish” he corrected. We laughed and moved on.

We paused before the next window. It showed a figure walking a lone and dark path. In the figure’s hand was a shepherd’s crook. Toward the bottom of the window, colored glass printed out Psalm 23.

Almost as if on cue, the old man and I said in unison, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake. Yea though I walk through the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…”

There’s more to that passage of course, but that was where we both paused. We shared a knowing smile – though strangers, we knew that we shared something very special – our faith.

We moved on to the New Testament side, and took turns naming the remaining stories depicted in the beautiful glass work. “The birth of Christ”, “John the Baptist”, “Jesus loves the children”, “The woman at the well”, “Jesus walking on water”, “The Garden of Gethsemane”, “The Crucifixion”, and most importantly, “The Resurrection”.

The tour only took a few minutes, but it was a sweet time spent with a new friend. I thanked him for his time, and for the experience. He bid me a fond farewell.

I left with my cookie, the sweet little vase, and a contented smile. Somehow I felt lighter inside. It was a good day. It was a good tour. It was good to be reminded of the kindness of strangers, and the camaraderie that exists when those strangers share belief and good natured fellowship.


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment.... via a single photo – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember…”


Making a List, Checking it Twice

Where has this year gone? There are only fifty-one days till Christmas!

If, like me, you participate in holiday giving, that fifty-one can be a scary number.

I’m a planner by nature, and honestly we have a lot of our gifts purchased/made & stashed away. Hubby and I tend to “shop” all year long. More often than not, we find fun gifts and stocking stuffers on clearance racks and in Goodwill stores. We don’t buy everything on the cheap, but we do save our pennies wherever we possibly can. Frugal shopping is fairly easy these days, anyway. What we can’t find in a close-out sale, we look for on-line and/or on sale in our local stores. With the Internet and sales in every shop, it’s not difficult to find everything on your list – and at the right price to boot.

It’s the hand-made items I hope to make this year that have me panicked just a bit. Fifty-one days doesn’t seem nearly long enough when I see the pile of raw materials that need to be turned into nifty Christmas presents for family and friends.

In a few minutes, I am going to sort that pile, and put each project into its own bag. Then I’m going to make a big mug of hot chocolate and dig into the first project on the list. Maybe (depending on what I pick first - and how much energy I have before bedtime), I’ll even have time to tackle two!

Confession – even though I’m a little bit tense about getting everything done on time, I don’t care at all! I just love this time of year so much!!! Everything about the holidays makes me happy…even the panic 51 days out.


Spring Forward, Fall Back

This coming weekend, many of us will be adjusting our clocks for daylight savings time. This is the switch that most people don’t really mind. For the first few days you can tell yourself you got an “extra” hour of sleep.

But I’m worried. I’m worried that one alarm clock in particular, won’t get re-set. That’s the one that exists only in the mind of our two-year old. The one which wakes him up, without fail at 4:30am daily. I’ve told you before about his sleeping habits. He just doesn’t like to sleep.

So, Sunday morning may start a round of our household getting up an hour earlier than everyone else. Believe me, 4:30 is early enough. 3:30 might drive me a little crazy. 
We bought a nifty toddler alarm clock recently, in hopes that it would entice our tiny insomniac to sleep in a bit. It worked twice. Now we still set it every night (turning the light to red is a favorite bedtime activity now), but he’s up and about long before the silly thing turns green (and we set it for what we feel is a very conservative 5:15).

Oh well, the one big advantage to having an early bird in the house is that we have a lot of bonus time together that your average family with two working parents would’t have. Many mornings, we’ve eaten breakfast, dressed, painted pictures, built block towers, sung songs and played with flashcards – all before 6am. So, for that reason I don’t entirely mind getting up early.

3:30 is just too early though…way too early.

So, this week we are slowly moving his bedtime later and later. For the record, we’ve tried making bedtime later before, with no long term success. Hoping for a breakthrough this time. Our plan is that when the weekend gets here we’ll have him stay up a couple hours later than usual, in hopes of resetting that inner clock. It might work. It might not. It might just cause him to take a long nap on Sunday.

Cross your fingers for us… and if you see our light on at 3:15, send coffee.

Lots and lots of coffee.

The Sparrow

Do you ever have a flash of memory that you can’t really explain? A flash so vivid, you feel you must have remembered it for a reason – even if you can’t pinpoint what that might be? Well, today I have a song stuck in my head, and for some reason am reminded of a lady who loved singing it many years ago.

As a child I attended a very small country church. My Dad was the song leader. Often we sang a capella as a pianist was not always in attendance. On occasion, there was special music (a soloist or small choir would sing to the rest of us).

Mrs. Houston was a sweet elderly lady in our church. She always had a kind smile for a silly little girl like me. It’s been years since I even thought of her, but today suddenly there she was in my mind just as if I were six years old again, listening to her sing. She routinely sang specials, and although she may have sung others, I remember her singing one old hymn on many occasions.  She was not a perfect performer. She might have made mistakes. Sometimes her voice shook just a little.  It didn’t matter. Nobody minded because she sang that song with all her heart. You could tell she believed every word.

That old hymn that I remember her always singing (and which is on my mind today) is this one:

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

The sparrow isn’t usually anyone’s favorite bird. My Mom, who is an avid bird watcher, calls the sparrow a nuisance. It scares away the “prettier” birds she likes watching best. That’s the point though, right? If He cares enough to watch the sparrow ( a nuisance bird), it’s not unreasonable to believe He watches us (even when we might be nuisances ourselves).

I don’t know why this song is on my mind today. I’m not currently discouraged about anything at all. In fact, life is pretty wonderful. We are very blessed indeed. I don’t imagine there’s ever a bad time though, to be reminded that we are not alone.

And anyway, as songs go…this isn’t one I mind having stuck in my head.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


Veggie-detecting Radar

When he was tiny, Little Guy loved peas. He also ate green beans and squash and carrots and corn. We bragged at how much vegetables our little sweetie would wolf down at each meal. Around his first birthday, things began to change. Gradually one vegetable after another fell off the “He’ll eat that” list.

It’s getting worse. Last night I caught him hiding green peas behind his booster seat. It reminded me of the classic family story my Dad tells. When he was a child, his Mom told him that before he could eat any of her home-made chocolate cake, he had to eat his Lima Beans. My Dad was not then (nor is he now) a fan of vegetables. However, he loved his Mom’s chocolate cake. So, he wedged the beans in his cheeks, ate his cake, and then went outside to spit out the beans.

For the record, I will not ever tell Little Guy that story. Hopefully his Grandpa can keep it under wraps too. We’ll see.

So, clearly Little Guy’s veggie-eating glory days are behind us. I’ve tried hiding them in other food (ala Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld). He might take one bite, but quickly his tiny lips are clamped shut like Fort Knox. He has some kind of crazy vegetable detecting radar that we can’t escape.

We’ve tried Jell-o that had shaved carrots and pineapple inside. We tried pumpkin bread. We tried meatloaf with various veggies pulverized and added in. We tried canned ravioli that boasted “one serving of vegetables” in each can. We tried tomatoes on sandwiches.

I think maybe we’ve tried it all, but I’m hoping that we haven’t. What has worked for you? What have you done to trick… er I mean CONVINCE your child(ren) to eat the stuff that’s good for them, and not hide it behind their booster seats?

I’d love to hear your tips. All ideas are welcome!

Last Weekend in October

Our Halloween weekend brought lovely weather to our neck of the woods and we took advantage of it!

We made a pumpkin family… L to R (Daddy, Mommy and Little Guy Pumpkin).

I baked some pumpkin bread… Made our whole house smell yummy (tasted good too!)

Hubby bought Little Guy his first guitar at a flea market ($5) and Little Guy LOVES it!

And we took Little Guy trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. He dressed as Superman for a little Halloween event earlier in the week, but “Railroad Engineer” was the official 2010 costume!

October was a wonderful month, full of happy memories and precious blessings!  Can hardly wait to see what November has in store for us. 


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